The disappearance of OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush’s Titan submersible has sent shockwaves through the maritime community. The sub, famously used for tourist expeditions to the seafloor wreckage of the RMS Titanic, vanished during an ill-fated voyage with Rush and four others on board. The incident raises questions about Rush’s controversial views on safety.
Rush gave a candid interview to “Unsung Science” host David Pogue of CBS about the design and building of the Titan sub. In order to illustrate his conviction that safety had a limit, he said, “At some point, safety is just sheer waste. I mean, if you just want to be safe, don’t do anything—don’t get out of bed, don’t get in your car. You will eventually take some risks, thus the question is truly one of risk versus return. Rush made bold claims about defying convention to use his submersible for novel exploits, such as inspecting the Titanic wreck.
OceanGate had previously asserted that the Titan sub did not undergo standard safety checks due to its innovative design. The sub featured a carbon fiber hull, a groundbreaking development in submersible technology. The podcast episode shed light on other unconventional aspects of the sub, such as makeshift ceiling lights and an Xbox controller for navigation. These details, coupled with the safety waiver, had raised concerns among observers, including Pogue.
In a 2019 interview, Rush expressed frustration with the stringent safety regulations, describing them as “obscenely safe.” While acknowledging the necessity of rules, he also believed in pushing boundaries and achieving innovation.
As the search for the missing sub continues, the incident underscores the delicate balance between adventure and safety in maritime exploration. Rush’s bold approach and willingness to challenge convention may have led to unprecedented achievements, but it now leaves a lingering question: Did the CEO’s disregard for safety contribute to the sub’s disappearance?
Deep-sea exploration will certainly change in the future as a result of the results of the investigation being conducted by authorities into the occurrence. The maritime industry is currently dealing with this tragedy, which serves as a reminder that while innovation and discovery are important, safety must always come first to safeguard the lives of those navigating the ocean’s uncharted depths.